Year: 2021 Source: European Journal of Epidemiology. (2021). Published online 10 June 2021. SIEC No: 20210464

Previous studies have found an association between recessions and increased rates of suicide. In the present study we widened the focus to examine the association between economic uncertainty and suicides. We used monthly suicide data from the US at the State level from 2000 to 2017 and combined them with the monthly economic uncertainty index. We followed a panel data econometric approach to study the association between economic uncertainty and suicide, controlling for unemployment and other indicators. Economic uncertainty is positively associated with suicide when controlling for unemployment [coeff: 8.026; 95% CI: 3.692–12.360] or for a wider range of economic and demographic characteristics [coeff: 7.478; 95% CI: 3.333–11.623]. An increase in the uncertainty index by one percent is associated with an additional 11–24.4 additional monthly suicides in the US. Economic uncertainty is likely to act as a trigger, which underlines the impulsive nature of some suicides. This highlights the importance of providing access to suicide prevention interventions (e.g. hotlines) during periods of economic uncertainty.